Meet Anne Enright: First Laureate for Irish Fiction

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The Forgotten Waltz by Anne EnrightOn Thursday, 29 January, author Anne Enright was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. The honour was presented at a ceremony at the Arts Council by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. 

As the Laureate, Enright will have a three-year term, during which she will teach creative writing  for one semester at University College Dublin and one at New York University, as well as participating in numerous public talks and appearances. In addition, as Laureate she will deliver an annual lecture which will be broadcasted, published, or both. These duties will be bestowed on the future Laureates as well.

The objective of the Laureate will be to encourage a stronger interaction with Irish literature, and the intention of these obligations and appearance is to bring the Laureate more into the public sphere. Each Laureate will also receive €150,000 for their three-year term.

The Laureate will have individual emphases during their terms. Enright has chosen to focus on the form of short story, and also on translation of Irish works into other languages for readers across the world.  

Anne Enright has a rich history of creating works in all forms, whether it be essays, short stories, or novels. She was born in 1962 in Dublin, where she went on to attend Trinity College and receive a degree in English and Philosophy. She continued her education at the University of East Anglia for a MA in Creative Writing. Before becoming a full time author, she worked in television production at RTE. 

Enright's works have both critical and popular acclaim. She has published two collections of short stories, The Portable Virgin (1991) and Taking Pictures (2008). Her collected short stories were compiled and published as Yesterday's Weather (2008). The Portable Virgin was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature. Her individual short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta and The Paris Review.

The Gathering by Anne Enright

In addition to short stories, she has also published a book of essays called Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004) and five novels. Her novel The Gathering was awarded the Man Booker prize for Fiction in 2007 and was named the Irish Novel of the Year. Enright's sixth novel, The Green Road, will be published in May of this year (2015). 

A selection of Enright's works can be found in branches of the Dublin City Public Libraries as well. 

During her time as Laureate for Irish Fiction, Enright will continue her creative process as well as performing the aforementioned duties.

Although many acclaimed and talented writers made the shortlist of the selection process, Enright was chosen unanimously by the selection board. The process is long, but takes into consideration the opinions of both the public and academics in the field of fiction.

First, nominations are requested from art and literary organizations, libraries, book clubs, and from anyone who has a strong background in literature. These preliminary suggestions are accepted from 30th of July to the 3rd of October. 

Next there is a narrowing of these suggestions by a panel composed of writers of high profiles, nationally and internationally. An internationally respected editor also joins this panel. They create a shortlist of the original nominees and release this list before Christmas.

This year's selection committee was comprised of Deborah Treisman, Blake Morrison, Siobhan Parkinson, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Paula Meehan, and Committee Chair Paul Muldoon. They were the ones to make the final decision of who should be named the first Laureate for Irish Fiction.     

The Laureate for Irish Fiction process and award is supported by NYU, UCD and The Irish Times.

This past weekend, Enright began her duties as Laureate. She was interviewed by broadcaster Vincent Woods at Longford Public Library on Saturday, 31 January, and did a reading at Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway on Sunday, 1 February. 

Future appearances and events by Anne Enright will be posted on the Arts Council Website's page for Events for the Laureate for Irish Fiction. The Laureate also has a Twitter account (@LaureateFiction) and a Facebook page (The Laureate for Irish Fiction) where updates and more information can be found.

Dublin City Public Libraries and Archives wish Anne "Congratulations," and the best of luck with her new role.  

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